“This dish is a girl named Blossom.
Beautiful edible blooms are scattered on crab cakes,
finely julienne radish, celeriac, tangy aioli and lemon.”
In 1868, John Gowing and his brother Preston Robert Gowing established a drapery business on the corner of George and Market streets in Sydney. Over the next century, this humble beginning would see Gowings become one of the most prominent departmental stores in Sydney.
The store specialized in men’s clothing and expanded into four suburban Sydney locations offering different kinds of apparel including camping gear. Although the iconic city store continued to be successful, the other locations fared less favourably and eventually Gowings could not sustain its business and closed its doors for the last time in January 2006.
Boutique hotel QT Sydney took over and refurbished the original site of Gowings and tonight, Mysaucepan and I are here to check out the multi-level restasurant Gowings Bar & Grill.
Decor on the mezzanine floor lobby lounge is quirky with a mix-and-match attitude.
Mannequins from Gowings’ heydays are tastefully restored and could double up as stylish coat hangers.
Lighting is seductive and a bar behind one corner of the lobby seems to be a intimate hideout for a drink or two.
We are lead to the upper level among some larger groups of diners though our table is at a cosy corner.
I have recently become a fan of Pepe Saya butter.
Pasteurized cream that is re-inoculated with bacteria for fermentation results in a complex, buttery taste and aroma. It is not cheap but then again, it’s definitely not your average butter when spread on fresh sourdough.
I am fine if a waiter hands me just a chilled bottle of beer in a cheap and cheerful restaurant. But in a restaurant like Gowings where mains are upwards of $40, I believe it is reasonable to expect your beer to come with a chilled beer glass.
So when my request for a beer glass doesn’t arrive after fifteen minutes, I reach for one of the wine glasses sitting along the window sill next to our table.
Wine glasses are in fact great for drinking beer. And good service recovery means that on recognizing his mistake, the waiter promptly offers my next beer on the house.
Mysaucepan‘s hot spanner crab cakes are golden brown crumbed nuggets with warm crab meat inside.
This dish is definitely a girl named Blossom. Beautiful edible blooms are scattered on crab cakes, finely julienned radish, celeriac, tangy aioli and lemon.
I try to detect special aromas from wood roasted garlic snails and if there was any, it is too subtle to make any significance difference among the garlic, mint butter and lemon.
Nonetheless, I’m a great fan of escargot done this style with some fresh sourdough to mop up that garlic and herb butter sauce.
It’s a Saturday night and this upstairs room is quite loud with big groups of diners.
A 100% Black Angus rib eye from Darling Downs arrives just as I like my steaks to be – just a piece of charred meat on a warm plate.
This steak is not cheap because you would be inclined to order sides of chips, mash or greens, unless you can weave some magic with a slice of lemon.
Medium rare as promised and the waiter comes around with a selection of condiments and mustards, French Dijon being always my preferred one.
Half a spiced duck with crispy golden brown skin is resting on a bed of creamy potato mash, steamed black cabbage and salt bush.
Mysaucepan is expecting a delicate pink blush in the meat but unfortunately, the duck is rather firm and overcooked.
I am impressed with the design of this restaurant because a refurbishment of a century-old retail space into a boutique hotel obviously presents architectural challenges.
As we wander down the stairs after our dinner, the open kitchen with a team of busy chefs comes into view.
The dining room at the lower level has smaller and more intimate tables.
We settle at the bar for after dinner drinks and on a Saturday night, it is a rather quiet and secluded spot for a romantic interlude.
So dear readers, do you remember the Gowings store and do you still have any item of clothing from there?
Gowings Bar & Grill
QT Sydney Hotel
49 Market street (Cnr Market and George street)
Sydney, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 8262 0062
Opening hours: Breakfast 630am – 1030am, Lunch from 12 noon, Dinner from 6pm, Bar 12 noon to 12 midnight